Testing With Represented Models & Working With Modeling Agencies

I have been shooting for my book a lot more in the last half a year than I did during the few years prior, and among other reasons, the ease of planning a shoot, coordinating my creative team & models is one of the largest for my continuing artistic development.

Needless to say, the results of any photo shoot hugely depend on the model and how well she takes the photographer’s direction. If you are just starting out and have been shooting with non-model friends, or aspiring models, believe me, things will change for the better once you begin working with professional, represented models.

I was fortunate to become friends with a Los Angeles-based agency that constantly makes me happy as an artist and a busy professional. Not only their models are beautiful and talented, their operations are so fine-tuned that I never have to wonder whether or not my package request was received, or whether or not the models will show on the day. And that is huge, especially in a busy city like Los Angeles.

They are The Osbrink Agency.

Feeling lucky to be working so tightly with Osbrink Models, I wanted to know more about what it is that they expect from photographers who test with their girls. I asked Scott Wine, the owner of the agency, a few questions, so I could share his answers with you.

Special thanks to the Print Assistant Alex Marlow, who makes my life so much easier by always being on top of her game, for organizing this interview!

I hope you will find Scott’s answers helpful and encouraging, if you have been thinking of approaching modeling agencies in your area but wasn’t sure if your body of work is good enough.


Oralia Cortes & Hilty of Osbrink Models, makeup by Lupe Moreno, Hair Vitor Mendoza, Photo & post: Julia Kuzmenko McKim

The Osbrink Agency was founded in 1992 by Cindy Osbrink. Scott Wine joined as her Partner in 1998. Today it is a full service agency with Departments covering TV & Film, Commercials, Voice-over / Animation and Print. There are a total of 25 people who work at The Osbrink Agency, 5 people combined work in the Youth and Adult print divisions.

O Models is a high-end LIFESTYLE agency. Our aesthetic is more fashion in it’s branding, but we cater to all types of clients across the board.

Why are test shoots important for the agency? How do you find and choose photographers for test shooting?

SW: I feel Test Photographers are backbone of any print agency. We always need fresh, creative images of models. Each photographer brings their own special artistic ability to the film. It is also a wonderful way to have models practice in front of the camera and get stronger and stronger by taking different direction from each photographer.

We usually find our test photographers by word of mouth, referrals, social media and by doing research on who is shooting whom.

What do you typically expect from a test shoot?

SW: If it is a trade situation (unpaid shoot – note by Julia) I let the photographers take full creative control. If we are paying, I have strict looks that I need to get accomplished and then they can have fun and shoot extra in any style they would like. Certain photographers are wonderful about turning around film and giving us their suggestions of favorite images.

I tend to like the photographer that has a try vision and is confident in what they are trying to achieve. I respect a photographer’s time, so I am not too critical on turn around time.


Taylor of Osbrink Models, makeup by Lupe Moreno, Photo & Post Julia Kuzmenko McKim.

What is your philosophy on testing with beginner photographers?

SW: I would allow pretty much any beginner photographer to work with one of our models. Perhaps a young model without much experience, but I feel there is something to be learned on both ends. I truly respect the art of photography, so I would have no reason to limit who we work with unless the quality of the work is not up to my esthetic.

What can a photographer do to make you not want to allow them to test with your models again?

SW: I would not work with a photographer again IF I felt their work was not progressing. I would try to give direction and hopefully see the progression, but if not, I would most likely not promote them to work with our models.

Any person that is not respectful to one of our clients (models – note by Julia) is grounds for not working with us any longer as well.


Click to enlarge. Lissy of Osbrink Models, makeup by Lupe Moreno, Photo & Post Julia Kuzmenko McKim.

Is it important for your to know what the concept of a test shoot is to select the right girls for the package to offer to a test photographer?

SW: I always would like to know what type of model a photographer gravitates to. Some are great with beauty, so naturally I would send a beauty model to that photographer and others specialize in bathing suit shots, so a model’s body would be very important to that person, and etc…

What would you recommend for a beginner photographer to have in their portfolio before they approach you regarding testing with your models? 

SW: I would like to see what a photographer is passionate about.  Have a strong sense of artistry. Be interested in Fashion, Pop Culture, Art, etc… If they have never shot a model before but have amazing landscape imagery then I would rather see that than nothing at all. As long as there is a will then I feel they should have a shot.

What is the best way to contact you?

SW: I like photographers to reach out to us in anyway possible: email, phone, social media:

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Showing 5 comments
  • Rebecca Britt

    Wonderful article, Julia. I myself have been looking to work with more modeling agencies. It’s always so much easier to work with models who have representation.

    What I would like to know is how agencies treat model releases for test shoots? I’ve gotten a few agencies who don’t mind at all if I make the model sign a release, and then I’ve worked with a few that deny the models from signing any kind of release, which makes the photos worthless to me, both for commercial work and my portfolio. Those are the agencies I tend to avoid.

    • Julia McKim

      Thank you Rebecca!

      Yes, that’s the two types we all have to deal with, and those who deny model releases are actually right.

      The thing is, if you want to use the images for your book you don’t really need the release. It’s the commercial use that you need the releases for, but in that case you should be hiring the model and paying her and the agency. If you plan to use the images for commercial purposes – it has nothing to do with a test shoot. Test shoots are purely for creating the images for everyone’s books or simply testing a model, some team members or new lighting.

      Also, if there is an image/images that you shot in a test shoot and didn’t have the release, then something came up and you may use some of the images commercially. Just reach out to the agency, explain the situation and ask for the release. They may give it to you for free (if you have good relationships with them), they may limit it to just whatever purpose you’re asking the release for, or they may want you to pay them a partial fee for the model’s work, since the images are now going to be used commercially.

      Hope this helps!

  • Scott Lewis

    Great information, learned alot from it.

  • Bob

    I need (want) to work with real models but I’ve been intimidated to approach an agency. I feel like I dont even know what to say without sounding like an idiot and killing any chance I may have had. This gives me hope! Thank you!

    • Julia McKim

      Bob, I know that you have already purchased our Go Pro: Studio Beauty course, go ahead and check out the Bonus Materials. What you are talking about is already taken care of by my team and I – we included a sample Agency Letter for this exact situation for you. Just copy the text in our sample, replace the details and email to the agencies you’d like to work with 🙂

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